The campaign of Ann Wheeler, the Democrat running for board chair, recently found deleted tweets in which Gray used stereotypes to mock violence and political protest in African American communities and exhibit intolerance toward non-Christians.
Gray, whose campaign paid a scrubbing service $30 to delete several thousand tweets, apologized for some of the controversial posts and owned up to others. On Thursday, he did not return messages seeking comment.
But local GOP leaders and a few protesters at the news conference in Woodbridge defended Gray and called Democrats hypocritical for supporting Gov. Ralph Northam (D), who admitted wearing blackface decades ago, and Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, who was accused of sexual assault by two women. Fairfax denies the allegations.
“John Gray has rightly apologized for his disgusting past tweets,” Jo Watts, vice chair of the county Republican Party committee, said in a statement.
“However, it’s hypocritical for the Prince William Democrats to focus on his mistakes when they give their leader, Governor Ralph Northam, a complete pass on his racist actions while taking his money,” Watts said.
Fellow Republican D.J. Jordan, who is working to unseat Del. Elizabeth Guzman (D-Prince William), criticized Gray, saying the tweets conflict with his values.
“We’ve all made mistakes in our past, but John has a lot of work to do to prove that he can be a leader of one of the most diverse counties in America,” Jordan said in an email.